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Train travel from Glasgow to Highlands

Visiting Scotland for the first time In June 2015. Arriving in Edinburgh by train from London for a 2 night stay and then planning on taking the train to Glasgow for 1 or 2 nights. My question involves whether we can visit Oban, Isle of Skye and Inverness by train or do we need to rent a car? If we stay in Glasgow for 2 nights we will have 4 or 5 nights remaining before we have to return to either Edinburgh or Glasgow for return train to London and flight back to Chicago. We have a total of eight nights in Scotland and have driven in Great Britain on a previous number of trips. I would appreciate any recommendations on the best itinerary out of Glasgow for 4 nights starting with Oban or 5 nights if we only stay one night in Glasgow. Thanks

Posted by
5559 posts

You can take the train as far as the ferry to Skye. But, once on Skye you really need a car. I know that there are people who say that the buses work just fine, but when I stayed a week on Skye for a photo workshop, the B&B help regularly hitched because the buses wouldn't get her in on time and took too long. :(

I would pick up a car at the Glasgow airport. You can take a bus from downtown Glasgow right to the airport. Then just head north You'll drive along Loch Lomond and then hit some beautiful scenery. The drive to Oban is between around 3 hours with time to stop and take pictures. It would take another three or so hours to get to Maillaig where you can catch a ferry to Skye. You can come home over the Skye Bridge and stop off and see Eileen Donan Castle.

Is there something in particular that is pulling you to Oban? For me, the main reason to go to Oban is to catch a ferry to Mull or one of the other islands--it's a ferry port. : ) It has a nice main street, but if it were me, I'd take a nice leisurely drive to Mailaig, making sure I had the ferry schedule and had made my reservation and spend the night on Skye.

Pam

Posted by
12189 posts

I will defer to Pam the expert on Scotland, but we loved Oban. Great lodging, friendly people, tasty food in the restaurants, and nice walks on nearby isles such as Kerrara. But we did not get as far as Skye so I cannot compare.

The train trip to Oban was easy and scenic. We spent a night in the Highlands at Bridge of Orchy, then went to Oban for two nights, then back to Glasgow. All by train, as none of us wanted to drive on the left. And in Oban I was kissed by a Glaswegian. Maybe that is why I liked it so much? But my husband liked it too, and no one kissed him. . . Except me.

Posted by
1829 posts

Oh, you girls! We liked Oban too and went to it by ferry from Islay with a stop at Colonsay.

Posted by
1280 posts

Don't worry too much about driving on the left, it comes to you. I do it every day! Now driving on the right is wrong ;-)

I would follow Pam''s suggestions and take a clockwise path up to Oban, over to one or two of the isles and back via Doone and Stirling. There is no rail link between Oban and Ft William, or Ft William and Inverness, so if you were taking the train you would be back tracking alot.

However the West Highland line is considered on of the most scenic in GB.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for the responses. My interest is in Mull and Iona from what I have read and we would use Oban as our jumping off point for both of these via ferry. I thought that Skye would require a car. My original thought was to rent a car in Glasgow and travel to Oban seeing Loch Lomond on the way. If we spend one night in Oban after seeing Mull and Iona via ferry can we easily drive to Skye in 3 hours and should we spend two nights at Skye or would Inverness be a better choice for two nights? Lastly, which is better: driving back to Glasgow or Edinburgh and is there a one night stop on the way back that anyone could recommend - Stirliong, St. Andrews, Perth? We are quite open to suggestions as one never knows if they will be able to make a return visit. We are trying to see as much of this beautiful country as reasonable in our 8-9 day time allotment.

Posted by
5559 posts

Ah, see, everyone is going to Oban in order to go to an Island!

You could stop at either Pitlochry or Dunkeld on the way back. If you haven't been to Edinburgh, then by all means spend at least a day there. Both Pitlochry and Dunkeld are in Perthshire. Pitlochry is bigger. It has the Festival Theatre, so I suggest you check and see if there is something that you would like to attend and make that your deciding factor. Dunkeld is smaller, with lovely B&B's and a great pub with music sessions, The Taybank.

Pam

Posted by
5 posts

Pamela:

Thank you so much for your prompt responses. I can see from the various threads that you are an extremely experienced Scottish traveler and an extremely generous person with your sharing of your travel knowledge. For a "newbie" Scottish traveler - thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me.

Posted by
1280 posts

To add to Pam's comments, if you go through Perthshire, I would recommend a trip along Loch Tay and the Scottish Crannog Centre. Though again a car would be essential.

Posted by
5559 posts

I really love the place. :) I'm really glad to have MC also providing suggestions. He grounds me in the local knowledge!

Pam

Posted by
1280 posts

Pam , blushes

One thing I am useless on is hotels, a bit of a cheapskate if the picturesque hotel is substantially more than the budget one, it is off to the budget so I can see more of the area by getting more nights for the same money.

I am however still convinced you work for Visit Scotland! And if not, I'll write to the First Minister to see if I can get you a job!